Most homeowners have a complicated relationship with wallpaper. Perhaps you ended up at the marriage counsellor the last time you decided to install it, or perhaps you have spent many days and evenings peeling away millimetre-sized strips with a steamer and a palate knife only to discover that under the fourteen layers you’ve removed the wall is held together with masking tape. But here’s the thing—after years of being passé, wallpaper is making a comeback, and today’s designs look nothing like the pears and roses in your granny’s kitchen.
Wallpaper can deliver a design impact which simply goes beyond that of paint. Whether your room is large or small, wallpaper can create an atmosphere, make a bold statement or add character and pizazz to an otherwise bland design. Wallpaper has some super-powers: it can make a vast, spacious room feel more intimate and cozy, or it can transform a small room in your home into a charming and dynamic space. Crisp vertical stripes can be a clever solution in a room with low ceilings, whereas horizontal stripes can trick the eye and make the room appear broader and more spacious. Large patterns such as damasks or florals can be the perfect answer to camouflaging an uneven or irregular wall. And let’s face it, wallpaper has personality.
According to Heather McConnell, an interior designer at Klein Home in Aurora, the latest trends in wallpaper are “bold, bright and whacky.” She is noticing big geometric designs, used mainly for accent walls and powder rooms. Many of these patterns include lots of gold, reminiscent of 1970’s design.
Something new and exciting is the advent of removable peel-and-stick wallpapers. “These new products are much more forgiving to install,” says Kim Lundy, manager of Estate Renovation Centre in Newmarket. If you make a mistake you can peel it off and reapply it.” These wallpapers are easy to remove and don’t damage the paint beneath (provided they are applied properly). Now, if you are renting, you can have wallpaper without falling afoul of your landlord, and if you break up with your roommate, you can take your wallpaper and go.
Coming in at approximately the same price as regular wallpaper, removable products range from designs that mimic “traditional” wallpaper to designs meant to be interacted with. One such product line, called Wall Pops, features a pattern of empty picture frames that you can draw in or attach personal photos to. You can also purchase large decals that are fun for nurseries and children’s rooms. Some incorporate growth charts or erasable “chalkboards” that you can scribble notes and drawings on.
As with all home updates, if you can find room in your budget to hire a designer you will probably save money and time in the long-run, as well as potential remorse. Today’s wallpapers are designed to add a “wow factor” to your space, and you need to be selective about the walls and rooms you wish to highlight and make a statement with. Too much wow can lead to woe. Designers also understand the impact of colour choices and whether elements such as lighting or furniture style will get along or clash with your wallpaper selection.
If you are a renter, a commitment-phobe, or living in a condo with cookie-cutter units, the new removable wallpapers offer an opportunity to be a little more adventurous and creative in your home. And if you’re feeling brave, maybe it’s time to embark on a daring new relationship with traditional paper – because you know, you should never say never.
Estate Renovation Centre, Newmarket
by Linda Mazur & Elaine Jackson